The MarketingProfs B2B Marketing Forum often inspires marketers to make big changes. The air at the conference fairly crackles with energy as impromptu brainstorming sessions happen in the hallway or over lunch. There's something special about the gathering that goes beyond sessions or parties: the conversations attendees have in hallways and in lobby chairs can lead to amazing things.

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Such was the case for Carlos Hidalgo, an accomplished marketer, speaker, and author, as he stood in the lobby of the 2016 MarketingProfs B2B Forum talking with fellow speaker Andrew Davis. "I made the decision to leave Annuitas at the conference in 2016.... It was like, 'I'm doing this, I've got to do it.' Andrew was a huge catalyst in that for me."

Fast-forward a few years and Carlos has taken control of his personal fulfillment, prioritizing relationships, setting (and maintaining) clear work/life boundaries, and publishing a book about his decision and the process of rebuilding his life to align with his personal version of success.

I invited Carlos to Marketing Smarts to discuss his book The UnAmerican Dream: Finding Personal and Professional Happiness Establishing Work-Life Boundaries.

Here are a few highlights from our conversation:

Starting your own business doesn't necessarily guarantee more personal fulfillment (05:05): "When I started my first agency, I had left what anybody would call a promising career in the software world. I was leading a global team and things were going well. But I was traveling like crazy all over the world, and at that point my four kids were really young, and I thought, 'This is ridiculous, I don't want to do this.' So I hit reset and started this agency, more as, 'Hey, let me get control of my life back.'

"Well, it came in droves at that point, and for a while it was really good, but then ego kicked in. And I started getting people who wanted to talk to 'Carlos Hidalgo.' I started getting people saying, 'Hey, we really want you to speak at our event,' and then I wrote a book and it did really well. And people were like, 'Well, we want to fly you around the world to come speak because you're known and you're influential,' and my ego just took over.

"Then I diluted myself, saying, 'Well, I'm doing this all for my family, and we're going to grow this thing.' And what happened is, as I obtained more 'success,' I became less fulfilled and more narcissistic in the process."

Fulfillment is not about balance, it's about boundaries (14:53): "One of the big lessons is: we should take pride in our work and we should work hard, but we shouldn't make it the center of all things. We should be establishing boundaries—I don't believe in work/life balance, I believe in work/life boundaries—that we establish in community with our loved ones that allow us time to work diligently and work hard, but when it's time to move off of work and into relationship, we are as protective about those relationships and that time as we are anything else."

You are enough, just as you are. (15:27) "Lesson number two is that, no matter what we do or do not accomplish, we are still worthy, and we have identities simply because we have a spark of the divine that is within each of us. Therefore, as Oprah says, that is our birthright and that is what makes us worthy."

When your inner critic pipes up, clap back (15:50) "[Lesson] number 3 is we need to park shame. That little voice that is within all of us sometimes that tell us how bad we suck. It says, 'Yeah, that person or that teacher or that parent...was right about you.' We need to just tell that thing to take a hike. We need to embrace the 'and.' And say, 'Yes, I might have made this mistake and I am still capable.' 'I might have done this, and I can still accomplish X, Y, and Z.'."

You can choose fulfillment over hustle, even if you don't have a fortune to fall back on (23:10): "I'm not saying this is easy, I'm not saying it's not scary. I didn't have a Plan B. I didn't have a big stash of cash somewhere to fall back on. I didn't have a life savings. I didn't have a buyout waiting for me. I just knew that my relationships, and the ones that I had to salvage at that point, were far more worthy and richer and valuable than anything I could build in a marketing agency. So when it came down to that, [the decision] was easy...

"We can choose happiness today, even if we're saddled with student loan debt or small business debt. I'm not minimizing those things, but they should not cause us to abandon the things that give live, abandon our mental, spiritual, physical, and emotional health to build something that eventually is going to go away, as all things do."

To learn more, follow Carlos on Twitter at @cahidalgo, and be sure to get your copy of The UnAmerican Dream: Finding Personal and Professional Happiness Establishing Work-Life Boundaries.

Carlos and I talked about much more, so be sure to listen to the entire show, which you can do above, or download the mp3 and listen at your convenience. Of course, you can also subscribe to the Marketing Smarts podcast in iTunes or via RSS and never miss an episode!

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Music credit: Noam Weinstein.

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